Journey to Nongriat village

This post is about our visit to Nongriat – a village near Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya. Accessible only via a foot path, one has to climb down 3500 steps from a village called Tyrna to reach Nongriat. But, let me start from where I previously left off.

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Umiam Lake, Meghalaya

Umiam lake, also called Barapani, is actually a reservoir – a man-made entity to harness the waters of Umiam river for generating hydro-electricity. We spent a day, staying at a boat-house in Umiam lake and explored the surroundings, also witnessing pre-monsoon showers in the process.

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Glimpses from Andaman islands

In early January this year, I undertook a much awaited vacation to the Andaman islands. I was earlier slated to visit the islands in early December 2016, but had to postpone my plans due to the prevailing cyclonic conditions at that time. It was a memorable week spent in the Andaman islands. I could not have asked for a better, more relaxing way to usher in the new year. Now, I’m composing a picture-heavy post showing glimpses of places I visited in the Andaman islands. Here they are, for your viewing...

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An evening at Kovalam Beach

Kovalam is a beach town, located just 14km from the city center of Thiruvananthapuram. There are 3 prominent beaches in Kovalam – the Hawa beach, Samudra beach and Lighthouse beach. The lighthouse beach is the largest among the 3 beaches and also the most sought after beach in Kovalam. A 30 meter lighthouse sits on the southern edge of the beach on a small hill-rise.

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Chitradurga and nearby

Chitradurga is a fairly well known destination, specifically for the famous fort. On a visit earlier this year, we learnt about other nearby places which are less touristy and better – Jogimatti and Chandravalli. We made a mental note to ourselves about these places for a later visit. The visit to Chandravalli materialized last week, during the long weekend for Deepavali and Karnataka Rajyotsava.

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An evening at Vani Vilas Sagar dam

Vani vilas sagar dam is situated about 200km from Bangalore and close to the town of Hiriyur on NH-4. Its popularly known as Mari Kanive in Kannada. Imagine a body of water snaking amidst hills around, the dam cutting across the water in the heart of the valley. The hills have lush green cover draping them all around, giant windmills rest atop the hills harvesting the wind energy.

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Shettihalli church ruins

A 200 year old church, today lies in ruins at Shettihalli. About 20 km from Hassan, is the village Shettihalli – where, about 30 years ago, the agriculture-focused village was turned into a backwaters’ area with the commissioning of Gorur dam across river Hemavathi. The church is situated bang in the middle of a vast expanse of land, leading up to the Gorur dam.

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A weekend in BR Hills, Karnataka

For quite sometime, there was tension within the extended family of not having been successful in getting everyone together for an outing. Some of us were getting edgy, not being able to get out of the city. Push came to shove, and we had to go ahead and plan a small getaway with only a subset of people. That’s how it is sometimes. Anyway, cutting to the chase, we picked BR hills as the destination and made the necessary travel and stay arrangements almost a month in advance – to kinda lock in the people who had signed up and not letting them slip away again. Now, we just had to wait for the travel dates.

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Satpura national park, MP – A visit to Forsyth Lodge

This past weekend, I had a wonderful opportunity to visit the Satpura national park in Madhya Pradesh and stay at Forsyth Lodge, where a few of us bloggers were invited for #TheForsythExperience. I had immediately jumped at this opportunity when it had presented itself. Visiting a previously unvisited state/place was not something I was going to pass on, especially when its a national park area we’re talking about. After having visited few of the Jungle Lodges and Resorts properties in Karnataka, I knew that any of the national parks would be beautiful. After the visit, I can say that “beautiful” is so much of an understatement.

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Belum Caves and Gandikota

Having read about these places far too many times in the recent past, we planned a visit to Belum caves and Gandikota in mid November.

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Lakshmi devi temple at Doddagaddavalli

The Lakshmi devi temple at Doddagaddavalli, is yet another, among a few of the lesser known Hoysala temples, situated near Hassan (wiki page). This temple was built during the 12th century when the ruler of the land was Vishnuvardhana. The temple is situated ~16 Kms from Hassan, off the highway to Belur. Below is the map with directions from Hassan. This temple is said to be one of the older Hoysala temples. One difference that is immediately noticeable from the famous temples at Belur and Halebid, is that this temple is not built on an elevated platform. The temple has four towers/shrines and hence is of a Chatushkoota construction. There are correspondingly four deities inside the temple. Of the four towers, 3 are undecorated, just following a pyramidal stack of layers with a kalasha  at their top. The fourth pillar has ornate carvings and underneath this pillar, inside the temple, is the garbhagudi of the main deity of Lakshmi devi. Pooja is still done within this temple, during morning hours. There is a pond situated behind the temple and the gate that stood between us and the path to the pond was locked. There seemed no other (easy) access to the pond from the road either. The view from the other side of this gate would have been a good one (sigh). We had to be contented with viewing the temple from within the premises, with ~7 feet stone walls on all four sides. The temple is a protected monument of national importance under the archeological survey of India, and the temple is relatively well maintained. Being a not-so-popular place, there is no huge throngs of tourists here, and that is a good thing. The interested traveler can spend quality time at this jewel of a Hoysala...

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Bucheshwara Temple, Koravangla

The Bucheshwara temple at Koravangla is a lesser known Hoysala temple. Situated about 12 KM from Hassan, and over 900 years old, the temple is at the edge of the Koravangla village.

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Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta

Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta in Karnataka is a hill which is part of the Bandipur national forest area (“Betta” is the Kannada word for hill). The hill top is usually covered with fog almost through out the year. The nearest town is Gundlupet (situated 20 KMs away). The usual recommended time to visit the hill is early mornings. I had visited the hill back in 2013 in the morning. We wanted to try something different, so we planned to be there for sunset. The forest checkpost, at the foot of the hill, only allows entry to visitors till 4 PM. We reached there about 10 minutes before that and managed to get through. There are restrictions in place atop the hill, for visitors. The only areas that the visitors are allowed in, is the Gopalaswamy temple (Lord Krishna). There’s fencing around the temple, to disallow visitors to venture out into the grasslands. The weather was not ideal – it was getting cloudy and the hill top was covered in dense fog. There was not much to photograph on that particular day. Here are a few images I took: The grey skies overpowering the colours – a tinge of the orange evening sky and the lush green grasslands. I also captured some time-lapse footage from this very location. The mist skimming through the grasslands and trees make for a dreamy scene. A freshly plowed agricultural field with cloud-kissed hills in the background. After 6 PM, it started to pour like anything and we took a good 7 hours to get back to...

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Short trip to Shimoga

Last week, I did a short trip to Shimoga and surrounding areas. The outing was planned rather late and did not have much planning behind it. The idea was to make Shimoga the base and visit nearby areas. We reached Shimoga by noon on the first day. We took the longer route of (Bangalore – Tumkur – Chitradurga (NH-4) – Channagiri – Holehonnur – Shimoga (NH-13)) – Longer by about 30KMs, still takes as much time or lesser than the usual NH-206 route. After lunch and some rest, we headed towards Tirthahalli (NH-13). We went through a patch of Shettihalli forest reserve en route. There suddenly was a thick canopy of trees which blocked much of the harsh mid-afternoon sunlight that was beating down upon us. Made a note to stop along this stretch on the way back when the light would be more ideal. After this, we crossed Tunga upper level dam project – this was blocked for visitors – one could just look at the dam in a distance. Nonetheless, we continued on. We eventually crossed Tirthahalli and reached Kavishaila – the rock monument erected near the erstwhile home of Rashtrakavi Kuvempu. The sun was still harsh, and even in peak winter, the heat was discouraging. We spent some time exploring around the place before we headed back. We needed to be near the forest reserve by sunset and before it got dark. On the way back, we stopped at several places. The road was smooth but curvy, and along the way, tightly hugs the small villages, lakes, trees, right beside it. To the people living here, these are mundane being ever-present so near to them. For us nature loving city-dwellers, these prove to be places so serene and calm that we easily get excited. While I had stopped beside a small lake near a village and taking photographs of the same, I overheard 2 boys passing us on bicycles talking in Kannada – “Kasa tumbiro nam oor keryaag yen ayte anta ivru photo tegitavre!” (“What’s there in this waste-filled lake of our village that these people are taking photos of it!”). All I could do was to turn back at them and grin widely 🙂 We saw a lot of destroyed...

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Avani, Kolar – Gaya of South India

Avani, Kolar – A slice of mythology and architecture, Gaya of South India Avani is a small village situated about 30 kms from Kolar, Karnataka (Map link). It is known for the Sita temple atop a boulder-ed hillock, but is not a place frequented by tourists. This makes it a nice offbeat location, close to Bangalore, ideal for a day outing. Those who are interested in exploring a historical place seeped in mythology and architecture will not be disappointed. Avani is also known as the “Gaya of south India” and has a big temple complex with ancient temples of “Ramalingeshwara”,”Lakshmanalingeshwara”, “Bharatalingeshwara” and “Shatrughnalingeshwara”, dating back to the period of the Nolambas and Cholas. Local mythology has it that Sita gave birth to Lava and Kusha in this region. Also, its said that Sita eventually entered mother earth as she was said to be the daughter of mother earth. The temple complex is well maintained and is one of the protected monuments under Archeological Survey of India. There are boards containing information at each of the temples within the complex. Here are a few images from the temple complex.     A little further down the road from the temple, you’ll come across a Sringeri matha. Further down is the path to climb the hillock that takes you to the Sita temple. The initial look at the hillock looks imposing and daunting, but the path is rough-paved with rock-cut steps and at places is marked with helpful direction marks. Along the way, one can see stacks of rocks clumped together in places. There is a belief that unmarried women wishing for a good husband, married women wishing for a baby, if they make a stack of rocks for worship, their wishes come true. At the top of the hillock is the Sita temple. Here are a few images from the climb I did.        ...

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Gorur Hemavathi Reservoir

A short visit to the Gorur Hemavathi Reservoir After a couple of photos of the Gorur Hemavathi reservoir being full and the splendid view of water gushing out from the dam’s crest gates made appearance in newspapers last week, I decided to pay a visit. But, to my misfortune, rains had decreased over the past week and the dam’s crest gates remained shut. But I was lucky enough to get a chance to visit the upper-level of the dam and have a look at the other side of the reservoir filled to the brim ( with more rains expected next week! Too bad, I do not have time off to visit the place again anytime soon 🙁 ).   Backing up a little bit, I took help of Google to guide me to the Gorur Hemavathi Reservoir. It took me via Channarayapatna, Hole Narsipura, which was supposedly shorter (instead of via Hassan). There were a lot of bad patches along this stretch, but the surroundings more than made up for the bad roads. Lush green fields, some ripe with fresh crops, some still being ploughed and seeds sown.   In one particular village near Hole Narsipura, we saw a field with Shavantige flowers (Chrysanthemum). These flowers were is several colors – Yellow, Lavender, White – but the yellow ones were the most in number.   On reaching Gorur, we were first met with disappointment seeing no water coming out of the dam’s crest gates. But, the trip to the upper level of the dam made up for...

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